Kerala floods
Using mechanical or hydraulic screw jacks to separate a building from its foundation, the cost of house-raising varies from Rs 120 to Rs 250 per sq ft.

Even as parts of Kerala continue to grapple with the fallout of one of the worst floods that hit the state recently, and as state government and bankers are stepping in to provide affordable housing to people, ‘house-raising’ companies are seeing a sudden spurt in enquires from property owners who want to protect the lifetime investment they have made in their houses.

Specifically, residents from areas like Kannur, Kozhikode, Alleppey, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thiruvalla, Kuttanad, Kottayam, Chemancheri and low-lying areas are now elated with the possibility of structurally securing their houses from natural disasters like floods.

“Earlier the enquiries or bookings for house-raising was for directional alignment of homes according to Vastu, to avoid water-clogged areas or sometimes even due to prestige issues where the neighbour’s house was on higher ground. But these days, people are wanting to know if house-raising would save their homes in case of flooding,” Deepak Sisodia, Managing Director of Shri Ram Building Lifting, says.

In the last few years, house-raising companies say that they have successfully elevated over a thousand houses in Kerala at an average of 3 to 6 feet from the ground. The firms claim that they are thoroughly equipped to ‘lift’ both commercial or residential structures as tall as four storeys high and even 70-year-old structures.

“Of course, for older properties we have to test the strength of the structure. In case we feel that the structure is delicate, then we undertake additional reinforcements before commencing the process,” says Shyam Kumar, Director of Ashirwad Building Lifting and Construction.

What is house-raising?

House-raising involves deploying hydraulic screw jacks or mechanical jacks to separate a building from its foundation in order to give scope for repair, renovation, relocation or even changing the direction of the house. According to the lifting firms, the hydraulic screw jack is designed to bear heavy loads – once the building is lifted off the ground, the structure of the house rests on a wooden box frame.

Subsequently, depending on the square feet area and the load of the house, the elevated hydraulic screw jacks are strategically positioned in key points in the building’s base.

The cost of house-raising varies from Rs 120 to Rs 250 per sq ft or more, depending on the load of the house, and the entire process may take a couple of weeks to be completed. On an average, the players in the market give 25-50 years’ guarantee for the project.

“A lot of care must be taken while shifting, especially because people attach a lot of sentimental value to their homes, so we need to ensure that there is no damage to the structure,” Rajesh Kumar from MCMD Engineering Works says.

While several companies are at present undertaking house-raising work in at least 50 sites in Kerala, several of them are on standby.

“Though we have received the go-ahead from our clients, in certain areas we are waiting for the water to recede, then we will continue our work.”

Story by www.storyinfinity.com (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP).

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